Muslim Women Sue a Restaurant in California for Alleged Discrimination
Led by Sara Farsakh, seven Muslim women sue a restaurant in southern California, after the staff kicked them out of the premises because they allegedly violated a restaurant policy that limits seating to 45 minutes.
Controversial Restaurant Policy
The women, who were all wearing hijabs, said that the staff of Urth Caffe in Laguna Beach ordered them to leave because of their violation of the said restaurant policy. But the video that the women took of the incident showed that there were empty, open tables throughout the restaurant.
When the women protested, the restaurant manager allegedly called their security guard and eventually the local police to force the Muslim women to leave the premises. In the same video that the women took, it was apparent that there were police officers who showed up to escort the women out.
A Case of Discrimination
According to the lawsuit filed in May 2016, the restaurant was half-empty at the time of the incident. The lawsuit is questioning why the staff did not ask the other customers to leave, despite the fact that these customers stayed in the restaurant far longer than the Muslim women.
The lawsuit further claims that the restaurant’s action towards the plaintiffs was not motivated by the women’s violation of the restaurant policy, but by the management’s desire to cleanse its premises of visibly Muslim patrons who apparently have been targets of hate crimes in the area.
The complaint even poses evidence that the restaurant has been targeted by several hate crimes against Muslims this year. It claims that there was an instance that a group of people threw eggs at visibly Muslim customers at Urth Caffe, slashed the car tires of these patrons, and yelled racial taunts.
Mohammad Tajsar, the lawyer of the Muslim women, stated that even if Urth Caffe did not directly attack the religion of the plaintiffs, the incident was a deliberate case of prejudice.
Restaurant Management’s Response
The management of Urth Caffe has not apologized for the incident. Instead, the restaurant defended its actions through a short Facebook post:
“Urth Caffe categorically denies any and all claims of racial or religious discrimination against Sara Farsakh. While a full investigation is still ongoing, it appears that Ms. Farsakh and her friends violated company policies and that the staff at Urth Caffe in Laguna properly and justifiably applied company procedures.”
Farsakh countered the above statement by posting an image online of a written copy of the supposed policy that she found on the restaurant table centerpiece. The policy says:
“During our busy rush times, if you have already been at a table for 45 minutes or longer, please share or give your table to someone who is waiting. If tables are available, you are certainly welcome to enjoy Urth for as long as you desire.”
Farsakh said that she and her friends decided to file a lawsuit because of the increasing discrimination that Muslims have recently faced in their community. “It’s unacceptable for anybody to have to go through this based off of the way that they look,” she explained.